Severe flooding hits West, Central Africa
The heaviest rainfall in 35 years has displaced about 150 000 people in eastern Uganda since August and the rain has been “worsening by the hour”, authorities said on Friday.
Up to 400 000 people have lost their livelihoods and 150 000 of them have been displaced by severe flooding in eastern Uganda, State Minister for Relief and Disaster Preparedness Musa Ecweru said.
Nine people have died in flood waters or lightning strikes during violent storms. Ecweru said the death toll is expected to rise with rain still falling across large areas of the affected region.
Ecweru said about 150 000 people had to move after being caught between rising flood waters.
“For the other 250 000 or thereabouts there is nothing in the kitchen. Their crops have been destroyed,” he said. “The floods are worsening by the hour—for the last 48 hours the rain continues falling.”
According to the United Nations, rainfall since July has been the heaviest in 35 years for many parts of eastern Uganda.
Ecweru said that a joint aid effort by the Ugandan government and the UN is being hampered by limited access with roads and bridges submerged in many areas. He said that three boats and four helicopters were being brought to Uganda by the UN to help deliver emergency aid including food, fresh water, tarpaulins and medication.
West and Central Africa
Flooding across much of West and Central Africa has killed at least 75 people and threaten about a half million, UN officials say as several countries report worsening conditions.
At least 33 people have died in Burkina Faso, 20 in Togo and six in Ghana, according to figures released by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs office in Geneva on Friday. Further east, 15 people have been killed in Rwanda, its government said.
Ghana, Burkina Faso and Mauritania have all made appeals for international help.
Elisabeth Byrs, spokesperson for the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, said storms have laid waste to roads and bridges, cut entire villages and destroyed thousands of houses and vast areas of farm land.
The victims, who are already among the most malnourished people on the planet, are in dire need of tents, supplies, drinking water, medicine, mosquito nets, fuel and matches, Byrs told a Geneva press conference.
In Geneva, she said, about 260 000 are suffering from the effects of the floods.
In neighbouring Burkina Faso, on top of the deaths, 35 000 have been affected by the floods that have destroyed crops in a country where 80% of the population live off farming.
Thousands in Burkina Faso are homeless and have found temporary shelter in schools and other public buildings.
In Rwanda, the 15 dead were in two villages in the north-east of the country, local authorities said. “It is a catastrophic situation. The rain started Wednesday afternoon and heavy floods have caused the deaths of around 10 people” in two villages in the Nyabihu district, district mayor Charles Ngirabatware said.
Five other bodies were discovered on Friday after water levels dropped, he said, adding that all the victims came from the villages of Mukamira and Bigogwe.
Togo schooling delayed
In Togo, non-stop rain over several days has washed away or damaged 22 000 hut homes, more than 100 bridges and 58 schools and colleges, along with 1 500ha of food crops, and has left 34 000 people homeless.
The government has declared three days of national mourning for the victims and on Friday postponed the start of the school year, which was supposed to have started on September 17, by one month.
The Togolese government has allotted more than 500-million CFA francs ($1-million) to rescue operations and assistance.
Last week, officials in Niger said about a dozen people had died in the country and more than 6 000 others had been affected by the heavy rains since July, and according Byrs one person has also been killed in Liberia.
Rescue workers are concerned that relief efforts could be held up by more bad weather predicted for September 18 to 24, she said.—Sapa-AFP